Go Climb (or don’t)

I’m back on the boat. The road trip is over. All in all it was about 10 days, and not a ton of climbing happened.

One reason not a ton of climbing happened is that my body didn’t feel up to it. I was sacrificing my body to the V5 gods, and the V5 gods said, “We don’t want this.”

There was one specific day in Bishop where everything changed. I was in the Sads. I was by myself. I was trying to warm up on some easy stuff, and then basically wrenched the crap out of my body establishing on a dumb, V3 slab. I got to the top. It wasn’t satisfying. And I thought to myself, What am I doing? Why am I doing this? Do I even like climbing?

Enter: the time since that, up until present day, sitting on my boat, burning incense to ward off bad energy, listening to the drone of my heater, thinking about how I should probably be doing my Booking work right now, NOT doing my Booking work right now, wondering what I’m going to do with the rest of my day.

But first, rewinding to the end of the trip, in Bishop, California, the eastside of the Sierras, the Year of Yaweh Two Thousand and Twenty-One:

I’d thought that I’d give Molly V5 a few burns before I left Bishop. And then, if I was getting kind of close, I thought I might stay an extra day in Bishop so I’d have a chance to possibly finally send my first V5. What ACTUALLY happened, however, was that I drove to a spot just north of Lee Vining and looked for first ascents. I found a beautiful egg-shaped boulder that I dubbed The Dragon’s Egg that you can actually perceive with your very own retinae right here:

(The boulder almost right in the center of the frame.)

Anyway, this boulder had a nice looking line on it, probably somewhere in the V0-2 range, but I JUST WASN’T FEELING IT. So I pressed on. I got to Tahoe, and DIDN’T CLIMB THERE. Or actually I sort of climbed there. I checked out some boulders on Kingsbury Grade Road as I was getting in, specifically one that had a high right hand pinch, a crappy left hand, and a right heel hook, that was somewhat overhanging, and I tried for a bit just to see if I could heel hook with my right heel to free up my right hand. Which I couldn’t. I tried no other moves on the boulder. I didn’t WANT to try other moves on the boulder. And then I left.

And that, friends, is how my sessions have been lately. I show up. I look for lines (or just moves) that inspire me. I don’t look in the guidebook until after the sesh, or before the sesh for directions on how to get to the spot. Basically, I just do what feels good. And you know what? Hardcore trainers would probably say that’s the worst way to approach a session, the worst way to get better. But I don’t care. A) I know they’re wrong, B) It makes me happy, and C) I realized in Bishop that I had to start completely over. I had to re-learn my love for climbing, and I had to learn, once and for all, HOW TO CLIMB. I’m not really sure how to do that, but I think it involves approaching climbing the way I did when I first started bouldering outdoors. I didn’t try to do things like “train my weaknesses” (unless I wanted to). I didn’t make myself try a boulder over and over if I wasn’t feeling it. I basically didn’t do anything I didn’t want to. I would basically roam around the hills of Gold Bar, taking a burn on something here or there, and then move on. I wouldn’t sit at a boulder for three hours making no progress and hurting myself. The only time I would stay at a boulder for awhile is if I was making progress, having fun, and feeling like I was sort of getting close to sending. And you might be saying to yourself: Well, that approach to bouldering isn’t the right one. And the thing is: You’re absolutely wrong. Because it’s right for me. And if it’s right for me that’s all that matters.

OK, and now I sadly have to do some ACTUAL work at my ACTUAL job, because I’m a working stiff (see: semi-rigid) now. I wish you all a glorious day. Go climb. Or don’t.

– Wetzler

 

 

Already Seven Days In

Today is already day seven of my road trip with my friend Darren to the Southwest. We’re in Bishop, California. There’s a cat sitting on the table next to me and it’s only 6:45am and I wish I’d slept longer but I couldn’t. I don’t know what’s wrong with me this trip. I went to bed at 11pm last night and this morning woke up at 5am. I need rest so my body can recover and I can boulder hard. And yet I wake up early and lie there and don’t feel that tired and after an hour or so of lying there think, Well, I might as well get up.

We spent the first night in Bend. I wanted to climb a V3 called Widgi Face I was convinced I was going to be able to climb, but got shut down for the third straight time. Well, I shouldn’t say shut down. I got shut down in that I didn’t climb the boulder, but made progress, and you can never really call it getting shut down when you make progress. The crux is getting a high right foot and then rocking your way over onto that foot while holding a tiny crimp with your right hand, and then reaching up with your left to a thin crimp ledge. Last time I was there I had trouble even getting to the tiny crimp, let alone holding onto it. And this time that was easy, and getting the high right foot was fairly easy, and rocking some weight over onto it and point my knee to the sky made all the difference. Also, just actually trying made all the difference. Like, sometimes you just have to say to yourself, I’m going to do whatever I can to get up this boulder. Screw technique, screw the beta I think I knew was right — just try to get up it. And so that’s what I did, and made some progress.

One of my goals for this trip was climbing V5 but I’m wondering if I need to reevaluate that. I wonder if my goals to just climb hard numbers are holding me back at all, preventing me from having fun and from becoming a better climber. Though maybe the goals can coexist with the less tangible stuff, too.

Our second and third nights were spent in the town of Likely, California. Not really a town, actually. More a group of a few houses and some ranches and a general store. It’s about a half hour south of the town of Alturas, which is more of a town. Alturas supposedly has about 2,000 people. We went to a Basque restaurant where when you sit down they bring over a caraffe of wine, some semi-questionable bread and chicken noodle soup. We both ordered steaks because we were in cow country. I told Darren, “There’s no way this meal is gonna cost more than 20 bucks. People would never pay more than that here.” Turns out Darren’s cost $32 and mine $27. Who are these rich cowboys.

The fourth and fifth nights were spent in South Lake Tahoe, where I finally bouldered for the second time. I met a guy named Jay at Sport Ltd in South Lake Tahoe and he lent me some guidebooks and then it turned out he was actually in the guidebooks. He was one of the developers of the area. We went to the Zephyr Boulders the next day and promptly got semi-wrecked by some V0’s. There was a fairly fun arete called Home Wrecker, but not the greatest warmup for someone with a wrenched shoulder. Then there was a tricky V0 called (I think) Chalkaholic, another arete at the Red Hut Boulder that was tricky until we figured out you could grab both aretes, and then we went over to a V2 called Ooh La La.

And Ooh La La was amazing.

But not V2 in a million years.

But still amazing.

But more like V0 climbing.

And now we’re in Bishop and there’s this guy at the table next to me in the common area where I am and all he does is talk and talk and talk. He’s pro gun and yesterday he was talking about how when he goes on business trips he leaves a loaded gun on his nightstand so his kids can defend the house. This was right about when I got up and exited the room, despite the fact that I had a cat on my lap and was loathe to disturb the cat. There’s something very comforting about watching a cat sleep.

Today I’m going to (I think) climb at The Sads, and the only reason I say “I think” is because my body doesn’t feel great and I didn’t sleep that well last night. God, why is it only 7:07am. I should probably do some work. I should probably not drink coffee, but I’m tempted to drink coffee. I should probably have some kind of sustenance because drinking tea on an empty stomach makes my stomach feel gnarly.

If we do go to The Sads I’m going to try French Press V6, and probably get shut down. They say you should always believe in yourself and be optimistic, but I think there’s a place for realism too.

 

I Want My Knee to Heal So Bad | Road to Recovery

Since I know the majority of you come here for spanking new bouldering content, I thought I’d give you an update on my knee and my Road to V7, aka Road to V12, aka Road to V2, aka Road to Being Able to Use My Knee Again in Any Sort of Normal Capacity.

So.

I’m lying on the floor of my hotel room in Los Mochis, Sinaloa. I just iced my knee with a huge bag of ice the dude from the restaurant gave me. I debated about whether or not to tip him. Should I give him the 5 pesos in my pocket? Would that be insulting? Do you really have to tip in a hotel when anyone does anything for you? Should I just dip my knee in the pool?

Brought the ice back up to my room, lay on the floor, propped my knee up on the foam roller (I travel nowhere without my foam roller), and iced the shit out of it. Then rested it. Then iced it some more. Watched some Emma Chamberlain. Rested it. Iced the living fuck out of it. And now I’m elevating it.

This knee is so fucking frustrating. Is it just my LCL that’s partially torn? Is it getting better? If it’s getting better why doesn’t it feel like it’s getting better? Are my ACL and meniscus also kinda fucked? God I hope not.

I’ve stopped writing about bouldering because I’m not bouldering. I went to Bishop last week and just looked at boulders. I drove by some boulders leaving Hermosillo the other day and you know what? IT DIDN’T FEEL WEIRD NOT BEING ABLE TO CLIMB THEM. I’M GETTING USED TO NOT BEING ABLE TO CLIMB.

It’s terrible.

When I can climb, where do I want to go? Bishop, of course. Leavenworth. Gold Bar. Index. Joe’s Valley. Moe’s Valley. RMNP. Bishop again. Joshua Tree. Back to Bishop. Leavenworth. Bishop. Leavenworth. Bishop. Leavenworth.

Squamish.

Has anyone else partially torn their LCL in isolation? How long did it take to heal? Please leave several comments below.

I can hear the ice melting next to me.

I’m going to watch a movie on Hulu tonight and go to bed. Supposedly I’m fasting right now. We’ll see how that pans out. I think it will pan out fairly well. Tomorrow I’m driving to Mazatlan. Or maybe even beyond, to San Blas.

I want my knee to heal so bad.

I Choose the Process | Fallon, NV to Lone Pine, CA

9:00am in Fallon, Nevada and I want to hit the road but my car is covered in snow. Luckily it doesn’t look like heavy snow. It looks like the kind my windshield wipers can handle. It’s not that cold out.

Going over Montgomery Pass the full-on blizzard conditions start. There’s a truck in front of me gong 20mph and I downshift into second so I won’t skid into him from behind. When I got off 95 the road started to climb, mile after mile of climbing, and I kept thinking, “How are we still climbing? How is this possible? We must be at 8,000 feet by now.” Then we merged with highway 6 and we were still climbing. I prayed that the Subee would hold it together, and she did, getting me over the pass. Once we were in California there was no snow at all. They asked me if I had any fruits or vegetables and then I was on to Bishop.

I planned to stay three nights in Bishop, but when I got there and went to the Von’s to fill up gas I thought, “Fuck this place. I’m getting out of here.” Everything about Bishop reminds me of the last time I was there, under much different circumstances, on a much different road trip. Things already feel like they’ve changed light years since then, but the memories are also still fresh. Pretty sure I wasn’t going to stay, I got a sandwich and a matcha latte at Schatz’s bakery, then made my way up to the Peabody Boulders.

If you’re new to this blog, let me tell you that last year about this time I became obsessed with the discipline of bouldering. It just so happens that Bishop is one of the best bouldering places on the planet, and it also just so happens that the Peabody Boulders, in the Buttermilk area, are some of the most famous boulders on the planet. Specifically the boulder pictured on the right side of the photo above, the Grandpa Peabody boulder. I figured if I wasn’t going to stay in Bishop I at least needed to see this bloc. I needed to touch the holds of Lucid Dreaming V15 and see The Process V16. I also wanted to check out Ambrosia V11, the 50-foot highball I’d seen Nina Williams send in a video.

The washboard road up to the Buttermilks was wretched. I kept thinking the wheels were going to fall of the Subee. Once I got there I parked in the completely wrong spot and didn’t take the trail up to the boulder because I didn’t know there was a trail. And then I was standing in front of it, looking at the lines, not thinking, “I’ll never be strong enough for this,” but rather, “I feel like I could pull on some of these crimps.” The main thing that impressed me about the Buttermilks, though, was the silence. There was no one there. It was cold and clear and you could see the Sierras in the background, looming over everything. I wanted to sit and appreciate the silence, but I also wanted to get out of there. I felt like I didn’t really belong there. I felt like it wasn’t my moment to be there. So I walked back down to the car, this time on the trail, and just as I was leaving two cars came ripping up the dirt road, disturbing the silence.

After Bishop I got on the 395 south, not knowing where I’d end up. I ended up in a town called Lone Pine, about 40 miles south of Bishop, in The Portal Motel. It was great. I watched Hulu. I chatted with friends. I spent way too much money on a black olive pizza from The Pizza Factory, and then spent several minutes stewing over the fact that I spent so much money when there was a special they didn’t tell me about over the phone that would’ve saved me a bunch of said money. And then, right before bed, I went out for a walk. The Sierras were glowing to the west, and the stars glowing in the sky. Orion’s belt was throbbing. I chilled at the skatepark for a bit, in the dark, but it was so cold that I was quickly forced back to the room. Right before bed I wanted to read and realized the only books I’d brought into the room were a psychology book by James Hillman and The Bishop Bouldering Guide. This presente a bit of a conundrum, as I wanted to read neither. But in the end I opted for the bouldering guidebook. I read the descriptions of some of the problems and also an essay on the development of The Process V16. To dedicate your life to bouldering, I thought, What must that be like? Finally around 11:30pm I turned off the light and tried to sleep but mostly just lay there, thinking. Thinking about what, I don’t remember.

 

19 Days | Cali Road Trip #5 Road to V7 #6,234

Planet X, Joshua Tree.

I’m in a hotel room in Ashland, Oregon. It’s freezing outside. Thirty degrees, to be exact. I just walked to Safeway where I bought a big thing of Tejava tea, a Kind bar, and a FocusAid. I’m watching the Chelsea v. Tottenham game and SORT OF waiting to see if Christian Pulisic will come on, but I also think I just need to leave soon. I’m debating whether or not to go to Bend today, mostly just to try a V3. The thing is, I WANT to try this V3, it’s an epic problem and I think I can send it, but I also really don’t want to do the drive from Bend to Seattle. I don’t like that drive. I don’t know why. But today I’d rather do the drive from Ashland to the Portland area, or Ashland to Centralia, or Ashland all the way home to Seattle. I’m a little bit reticent about getting back to Seattle. Reticent about the cold, dark days. Reticent about being on the boat. Reticent about being in gloomy Seattle when the climbing gyms aren’t even open.

Four days ago I sent a V3 in Red Rocks called “Sorange.” Yesterday I sent a V3- and a V3 at a boulder called “Byron’s Boulder” near Mt. Shasta. I don’t think either of the problems yesterday were V3. One of them, Pulley Pulling, was probably a V2, and the other problem, “Byron’s Backside,” was probably a V2 too, though maybe a V1. Byron’s Backside was a sloper problem, and I don’t think it was too much harder than Fountain Blues, in Leavenworth, which is a V0 (the best V0 in the universe).

The reason I’m mentioning these problems I’ve recently sent is because it’s possible that right now I feel stronger than ever. This is because I’ve been climbing A LOT lately, and so the question is: how have I been able to climb so much without injuring myself or further aggravating previous injuries?

And then answer, I think might be, diet. I’ve been hanging out with Carolyn lately due to our road trip, and she eats approximately 6,000 times better than me. She east a LOT more vegetables than me, and she also never goes crazy on the sugar. Could these two things be it? Is the solution merely eating sugar in MODERATION and also getting more vegetables? I dare say this could be it, or could be a massive step in the right direction. I like feeling strong. I want to keep feeling this way. And maybe it means I need to make some massive changes to my diet.

After Tahoe I went to the Bay Area where Carolyn and I bouldered at Salt Point State Park. Then we went to Joshua Tree where we experienced some of the most magnificent bouldering I’ve ever seen, albeit with the hardest grades I’ve ever seen. And from there to Red Rock Canyon outside Vegas. Oh, and I kinda went to Bishop, too. I went to Bishop, camped two nights, almost froze to death, and climbed some beautiful, juggy, overhanging blocs.

I still haven’t sent V4.

But I’m getting damn close.

J-Tree, Bishop, and Red Rocks will be subjects for other posts. Especially J-Tree. I’ve never experienced a place like that.

For now, though, I’m going to watch this Chelsea game, drink my tea, and get ready to send it MAYBE to Bend, maybe just up north to Seattle. If you have a thought on the matter please post a comment immediately and try to influence me.

Anyway.

Talk soon.

-Wetz